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Michael Jackson Returns to Court
Aired May 28, 2004 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Appealing to the judge today. Michael Jackson's lawyers say they're being stonewalled.
A weekend to honor America's war dead and the unveiling of the World War II memorial. Are all the federal agencies on the same page as they face the holiday security challenge?
And ouch! A Kansas City pitcher takes a line drive straight to the head. These aren't stitches; that's the mark the ball left on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome everybody. Bill Hemmer actually has the day off, but Anderson Cooper is filling in for us. Nice to have you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm glad to be here on this Friday.
O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate it. These are some of the stories making headlines this morning. We begin with...
COOPER: Michael Jackson's lawyers will be heard today in a Santa Barbara superior court. There are over 1,000 documents, possibly more than 100 witnesses in the case, but they say that is not enough.
Jeffrey Toobin will update us on a situation that could delay the Jackson trial.
O'BRIEN: Also this morning we're going to hear about the problems in extraditing a major al Qaeda suspect and why even though Abu Hamza al- Masri has been watched for years, he was only arrested just yesterday.
COOPER: And it was a long hard fight for World War II veterans, nearly 60 years, but they have finally got their memorial. Now it's going to be dedicated for this Memorial Day weekend. We'll talk about that.
O'BRIEN: And Jack Cafferty not here today.
COOPER: Not here -- on vacation.
O'BRIEN: But I'm sure he's watching.
COOPER: Oh yes. O'BRIEN: Not. Actually he's got a couple of days off. I think he's off on Monday for Memorial Day, too.
COOPER: Has he really?
O'BRIEN: Lucky guy. But Toure, our AMERICAN MORNING regular, is going to be along to help us out.
COOPER: All right, let's take a look at what's going on right now at the Michael Jackson case. Returns to court today for another pre-trial hearing in California. The pop star is not expected to attend.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty, of course, to ten felony counts. In a moment I'll talk with Jeffrey Toobin about the Jackson case, but first CNN's Miguel Marquez with more on today's legal proceeding.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN: Another hearing, another step closer to the trial of pop star Michael Joe Jackson.
The venue, a Santa Maria courthouse, the place where conspiracy and child molestation charges against Jackson are likely to be heard.
Charges Jackson says are false.
MICHAEL JACKSON, POP STAR: I love the community of Santa Maria very much. It's my community, I love the people.
MARQUEZ: And just when a jury of Jackson's peers could begin hearing the case may become clear in today's hearing. A court official says the judge will try to set a trial date. Also on the agenda, Jackson wants his bail set at $3 million reduced to $135,000.
But the prosecution argues significant bail is necessary because Jackson is a flight risk. The judge is also likely to hear arguments from Jackson's lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, that the prosecution is dragging its feet and turning over evidence obtained by search warrants and interviews with dozens of witnesses, what lawyers call discovery.
In court documents, Jackson's defense argues the grand jury indictment substantially broadens the scope and complexity of the case with at least five alleged co-conspirators.
CNN's legal analyst says defending Jackson is more difficult, leaving open -- some say -- the possibility that Jackson may eventually go the way of other high profile defendants, guilty of the cover-up but not the crime.
The attorney for media organizations, including CNN, will also argue that the full grand jury testimony transcripts should be released, and that the full grand jury indictment, which lays out 28 alleged acts of conspiracy, should also be made public.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: Let's get some analysis now -- what's likely to happen at today's hearing.
CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us this morning.
Good morning, Jeff.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning.
COOPER: So how serious is this? I mean, the defense is saying there are some 300 items that were taken from Jackson's home that they haven't gotten; that the discovery process basically is being delayed intentionally by the prosecution.
TOOBIN: It's hard to tell how serious it is at this point, but it just gives you a sense of the scale of this case. I mean, here you have 300 items in dispute, not -- most trials only have 300 items or far less at issue -- in the whole case.
This is a very common dispute in criminal cases, especially high profile ones. At this point, it's probably not a big deal, these things usually get sorted out, but it's just...
COOPER: And in terms of the way the case is, I mean, there may be 100 or more witnesses.
TOOBIN: They're talking about a three, four, even five-month trial if and when this case goes to trial.
For a case that is really, essentially, a one-on-one between Michael Jackson and his accuser. It just shows how this has mushroomed. This case.
COOPER: Is this -- I mean the hearing today -- this thing about the defense complaining about the discovery. Could it possibly slow any potential trial date?
TOOBIN: They might set a trial date today. The judge in a hearing much earlier when I was there said he really hoped to get this case started by December.
Given the way California judicial systems works, I'd say that's an ambitious goal, but he may try to do it today, but even if they set a trial date today, it could easily slip over the many months to come.
COOPER: Now the lawyers for the alleged victims family have actually filed a suit against Los Angeles County the Department of Children's Welfare. Why?
TOOBIN: Remember that document on the smokinggun.com? When the accuser was interviewed by the child services organization and he denied any kind of untoward conduct by Michael Jackson, a critical document... COOPER: This document was a summary of an investigation that happened six months prior.
TOOBIN: Correct. And they are suing, saying it was improper for that document to be leaked. It's a long shot lawsuit. It's very hard to sue the government in general, particularly for that sort of negligence.
COOPER: But what does it say about the importance of that document?
TOOBIN: That document, I think, will be a hugely important and very favorable document for Michael Jackson and the case, because here you have the accuser telling government investigators that Michael Jackson did nothing wrong.
The prosecution is going to have to explain that away. Obviously the accuser and the prosecutor are now aligned. This lawsuit indicates how seriously they take the problem created by that document.
COOPER: Interesting. Jeffrey Toobin, thanks this morning.
TOOBIN: Nice to see you.
O'BRIEN: The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is criticizing some of the nation's top law enforcement officials. The focus is Wednesday's news conference about the increased threat of a terrorist attack.
California Republican Christopher Cox says Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's absence from the event leaves the impression that a close inter-agency working relationship does not exist and as Jeanne Meserve reports, sources are telling CNN there might be something to that criticism.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: On Wednesday morning, before the Justice Department press conference, an administration sources says the president asked Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge if they were in sync.
They said yes, believing he was referring to the release of lookouts for suspicious persons. But Homeland was caught off guard by Ashcroft's dire interpretation of the current intelligence. On this, they were not in sync.
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This disturbing intelligence indicates al Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard.
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We could go back over the past two years and pick out threat reports of pretty much the same substance.
MESERVE: Thursday they still appeared out of sync with Ashcroft repeating his take on the threat reporting.
ASHCROFT: Its multiply sourced, credible intelligence that's growing -- that's a stream of intelligence that has been corroborated.
MESERVE: An administration officials says the Department of Justice has been taken to task for not coordinating with Homeland and other agencies. All parties involved have been asked to insure the greatest cooperation when announcing threat information, said the official.
One state homeland official says they could have told us ahead of time, and homeland officials expressed concern that the lack of coordination undermined the department's relationship with state and local officials who were left, one official said, shrugging their shoulders and wondering what to do.
Some say it left the public in the same state.
DAVID HEYMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think it confuses them and frankly angers them because they don't know what to expect from their government and what's the credible thing that they're supposed to be responding to.
MESERVE: Ashcroft's press conference has had one positive impact. Twenty-four hours after releasing photographs of seven people with suspected ties to terrorism, the FBI has received over 2,000 tips and it's asking for more.
Meanwhile, a Justice Department official disputes that Homeland was ever out of the loop, saying DHS was at the table every step of the way.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
O'BRIEN: Exactly eight weeks from today, a radical British Muslim cleric will face an extradition hearing in London.
Abu Hamza al-Masri was arrested there yesterday, accused of supporting terrorism among other charges. Terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel has been tracking Abu Hamza's activities for years.
He joins us from London this morning to talk about the charges that the U.S. has brought now against the radical cleric. Nice to see you, thanks for being with us.
SAJJAN GOHEL, TERRORISM ANALYST: Good to be with you.
O'BRIEN: He's a somewhat notorious figure I think it's fair to say. He's been living in London for years, so why the arrest right now? GOHEL: Well, in fact, indeed he's the most notorious Islamic cleric that probably exists. He's had a long reputation of encouraging young individuals to go off to far away lands to kill and be killed.
The biggest problem has been it has not been enough evidence to directly link him to terrorist attacks in the past.
Secondly, it's been difficult to extradite him to countries that have the death penalty because under European law it would be impossible to do that.
Only now after many years is the process finally coming into place where Abu Hamza can now be charged with crimes leading to terrorism.
O'BRIEN: So then is there -- are you saying that there is new evidence that links him specifically to specific crimes?
GOHEL: Well, in the past it was very difficult to lay any direct trial of terrorism at Abu Hamza's door. He played his cards very closely to him.
He was made sure that he did not openly tell individuals to go and commit acts of terrorism.
However, James Ujaama, the person in the United States who was captured and arrested because he was trying to create a trainee camp of terrorists inside Bly, Oregon has directly given information to suggest that now Abu Hamza was directly behind that as well as the fact that Abu Hamza may have been planning and coordinating terrorist attacks inside Yemen. I think information now is finally come out for that.
O'BRIEN: Some people have actually described it as sort of a consultant position to that terrorist camp that was going to be created in Oregon. Tell me a little bit more about this camp. How far along did the planning go?
GOHEL: Well, this goes back some time. It's in fact long before September 11th.
James Ujaama was an individual that went to the United Kingdom, he studied at the Fenwick Park in Moscow that was controlled by Abu Hamza from there he was indoctrinated he went off to Afghanistan, Pakistan for further militant training and it's believed that Abu Hamza wanted him to go and create a big type of camp in the U.S. to recruit American citizens to then fight against the United States and fight for terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and had it been successful it would have caused untold problems for the U.S.
O'BRIEN: He is missing both hands, one eye. He said it's from his fighting days back in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Is that right?
GOHEL: Well, that is what he has tried to claim, he's tried to create that jihad type war image whereas in fact that is quite a dubious claim because the BBC had a producer that interviewed him back in 1993 and his eye and his hand were firmly intact and the war in Afghanistan had ended by then and its more likely that he in fact blew his hand and his eye apart when he tried to create a bomb in Bosnia and I think that's far more shameful for him to admit.
O'BRIEN: He faces an 11-count indictment. Can he be extradited if in fact the U.S. wants to pursue the death penalty?
GOHEL: Well, I think that that's a major sticking point. The United Kingdom cannot extradite any individual that would face the death penalty abroad.
The United States government will have to relent on that issue if he's to be extradited. That has been the biggest point -- problem -- in the past. The Yemenese government have also wanted Abu Hamza but if the British government were unable to send him there because of the fact the death penalty would be imposed.
O'BRIEN: Sajjan Gohel is a terrorist analyst joining us this morning. Nice to see you. Thank you very much.
GOHEL: Good to be with you.
COOPER: Well tomorrow's dedication of the World War II memorial in Washington is just the first in a series of high profile events that have officials concerned.
Preparations are still going on this morning. As you can see, that's a live shot there of the memorial. Organizers say the security around the ceremony, which will include several U.S. presidents, will be unprecedented.
Some 1,000 law enforcement officers will be backed up by several special support and response teams. For more about the memorial itself we're joined from Washington by Sean Callebs.
Good morning Sean.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN: Good morning Anderson. This is what happens when you plan for a major even and expect as many as a couple of hundred thousand people.
It's going to be crowded. We're pretty far away. You can see behind me over my shoulder there just a hint of the World War II memorial.
Unfortunately, it's going to be so crowded here tomorrow this is about as close as many veterans are going to get.
You can't tell from here but it's actually about as large as a football field. And for the veterans themselves, they say this is a welcome sight that they have been waiting a lifetime for.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CALLEBS: Eleven years after President Clinton authorized construction, nearly three times as long as U.S. involvement in the war, World War II veterans are embracing a memorial they proudly call their own.
FRED WOLFE, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: Everybody else is screaming we want a memorial for this, a memorial for that. And I thought it was about time that they guys got a break.
CALLEBS: Friedrich St. Florian design was selected from 400 entries. At each end, large granite arches. One reads, "Pacific" -- the other "Atlantic."
They denote the two theatres of U.S. involvement. Fifty-six smaller pillars ring the plaza, one for all fifty states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Bronze wreaths, one oak, the other wheat, are meant to symbolize U.S. agricultural and industrial strength.
Beyond the civic plaza, a wealth of subtle touches to inform and inspire.
Many veterans like John Nicholas have heard complaints about the design. Where some see a bland structure, he finds grandeur.
JOHN NICHOLAS, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: It can bring tears for those who aren't here.
CALLEBS: One items decided early on, any memorial had to be built around a refurbished rainbow pool.
Still, for all the planning and the $195 million in donations that rolled in, construction was a battle of a different kind.
Critics filed legal challenges; upset the sprawling structure would break up the sweeping mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
CALLEBS (on camera): We're looking at another live picture of the memorial and a lot of people say it really doesn't take away from the aesthetic value of the vista. And for many veterans, they say it is actually a very heartwarming picture.
Anderson, we've heard a lot about security that's going to be out here over the next 72 hours or so, but there's also going to be a lot of health officials out here. The National Park Service expects as many as one in four veterans will need some assistance this weekend.
The good news: it's going to be relatively cool here.
COOPER: All right, good news there. Sean Callebs, thanks very much.
CNN will have live coverage, of course, of the dedication of the World War II memorial. Coverage with Paul Zahn live from Washington begins tomorrow at 2 p.m. Eastern.
It is just about 15 minutes past the hour. Time for a look at some of today's other news with Heidi Collins.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning guys. And good morning everyone.
We begin in Baltimore this morning where a mother of three made a gruesome and tragic discovery. Police say the woman found the bodies of her three murdered children in their apartment yesterday. Authorities say one of the children had been decapitated, the other two partially decapitated.
According to police, a man described as a person of interest is now undergoing questioning.
U.S. soldiers escorting a convoy of detainees from Abu Ghraib Prison came under attack this morning. The prisoners were being released when shots were fired from nearby buildings. The U.S. soldiers took cover. The convoy of 13 buses stopped. The incident was said to have ended quickly. There appears to be no injuries as a result.
Of just 600 prisoners are expected to be free from Abu Ghraib today.
The Pentagon says a soldier believed killed in combat was actually murdered by his Iraqi captors. A criminal military investigation made the conclusion that Sergeant Donald Walters was killed by his captors in March 2003. It's based on forensic evidence.
He was part of the 507th Maintenance Convoy that got lost in An- Nasiriyah, the same convoy carrying Jessica Lynch. The conclusion is based on a forensic study and witness statements from Iraqis with the change of status, Walters's family receives additional benefits from the military.
In Colorado now defense attorneys for Kobe Bryant are pursuing details of his accuser's sexual history. Bryant's attorneys asked a judge yesterday to order DNA samples from a co-worker and a former boyfriend of the accuser. Bryant's legal team claims his accuser had consensual sex within hours after her encounter with Bryant.
The woman's attorneys deny that claim. Kobe Bryant pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual assault.
And after a day in court, NBA star Kobe Bryant scores 31 points to help lead his L.A. Lakers to a Game Four victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers are now in front of the T-Wolves three games to one in the Western Conference finals. Final score there now 92-85 and for Game Five on Saturday, the T-Wolves going to need a win at home to stay alive.
And we were talking about this earlier: not so sure that series is going to go seven games. We'll have to see.
O'BRIEN: Well, we know whom you're rooting for.
O'BRIEN: Sort of.
COLLINS: No, I am, but they're going to need to step it up a bit.
O'BRIEN: They need extra rooting then. Thanks, Heidi.
O'BRIEN: It is time now for the "Question of the Day" but as we mentioned earlier in this show, Jack is off. But we've asked Toure to fill in for Jack, and I'm trying to decide is this a positive career move for you, filling in for Jack Cafferty?
And what do you read into that? Is this a good thing for your career, or a bad thing?
TOURE, "Rolling Stone": Have you seen Jack lately? I have nothing to say to that at all.
O'BRIEN: My attorney will answer any questions. I hear you. I hear you.
TOURE: I'm just happy to be sitting in with the band all morning long. Going to be just fine.
O'BRIEN: We are happy to have you. What's the "Question of the Day?"
TOURE: Thank you. Well, you know, the biggest -- tours of the summer -- are Madonna and Prince. And its kind of like, are they old geezers back for another dollar?
No, they are mature artists. We complain about Brittany and these vapid young people but these are mature artists.
This is the answer. So...
O'BRIEN: This is the answer of the "Question of the Day?"
TOURE: Well, yes -- I'm giving the answer. The answer is yes and you get it right then you get a prize if you don't then we'll read your e-mail anyway. Is this not the way it's supposed to go? A little different than this? We don't?
COOPER: This is exactly like Jack Cafferty.
O'BRIEN: Wow, I miss Jack already. TOURE: But more than that, the '80s will never die. That's the other thing, "Heathers" is -- you know -- "Mean Girls" is "Heathers" -- the IPod is the new Walkman.
Prince and Madonna will never go away. Bruce Springsteen, U2, so -- anyway -- the "Question of the Day". Is there pop life after 40? Are Madonna and Prince just out for more money; are they mature artists?
O'BRIEN: If you say mature artists...
TOURE: Then you get it right.
O'BRIEN: All right, and also thanks for sitting in. We appreciate that. And we say the e-mail is email@example.com.
COOPER: There you go.
TOURE: And we should say that.
COOPER: I have never professed to know very much about sports. In fact, I really don't know anything. In fact, Toure was trying to speak to me about sports earlier and I was like -- yes -- what?
Ask me about Madonna. But in yesterday's Royals-Tigers game, take a look. Kansas City pitcher Justin Huisman took a line drive off the forehead from the Tiger -- yes -- it's not good. From the Tigers Carlos Pina. I don't know anything about sports but I know that's not good.
The imprint of the ball was clearly visible on Huisman's head. He said he partially deflected it with his glove. Yes, not good. After the game Huisman told reporters that he was not too badly hurt.
The Tigers had 27 hits in their 17-7 win. That is a franchise record, I'm told.
O'BRIEN: Well they said -- that's a shot at first I thought that was like stitches from surgery.
COOPER: Yes, it's not; it's from the ball.
O'BRIEN: The ball.
TOURE: Yes, they -- 85 miles an hour. They throw the ball like 85 miles an hour; it comes back like just that fast. You know, that's...
O'BRIEN: Oh, wow. One lucky guy as they say in the biz. Still to come this morning, U.S. troops attacked by insurgents near Najaf a day after the coalition agrees to halt offensive operations there. The latest on that is just ahead.
COOPER: Also, could relief from rising oil prices be coming from OPEC? That is coming up.
O'BRIEN: And NASA says it may have discovered a new planet and as these things go, it's just a little baby planet. We'll explain when AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: And welcome back everybody. Will OPEC bring some relief from rising oil prices? With that and also a preview of the market this morning, Andy Serwer "Minding Your Business" -- hello.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning to you. We finally did get some relief from rising oil prices over the past 48 hours, Soledad, after hitting record highs earlier this week.
The price of oil broke the big 40 -- that is it broke the $40 a barrel mark yesterday and it looks like more relief might be in sight.
You might remember yesterday also, Soledad, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's said we might get more oil from Mexico, Russia and Nigeria.
Now it looks like OPEC says they might be opening up the spigots. They're meeting in Beirut next week and it looks like they might get rid of all quotas.
Now it might not be that much action there because a lot of them are pumping full anyway, full bore, but still it could be good news. What does that mean for us? Possibly lower gas prices, and I would say probably not higher gas prices. So even that is a blessing at this point because they've gone up so much lately.
O'BRIEN: Past at this point, at least it would be better than if it keeps going up. Want to talk about the market?
O'BRIEN: How was it yesterday?
SERWER: Yes, let's do that. Yesterday we had a very good day. I think also because of the relief from -- you can see here the markets up nicely. Still not over 2,000 on the Nasdaq and one other interesting note about oil this morning, Soledad, a new study out from the General Accounting Office showing that part of the reasons prices have been going up so much in the past decade or so is because there have been over 2600 mergers in the oil business since 1990. A lot of consolidation, a lot of people saying higher prices.
O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, Andy, thanks. We'll check back in with you later.
COOPER: Turning to national politics, some polls find a hypothetical ticket of Senators John Kerry and John McCain with a wide lead over the Bush-Cheney ticket.
Senator McCain joked last night about the possibility of teaming with Senator Kerry on the "Conan O'Brien Show." Let's take a look.
LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN FROM NBC: There is first of all a lot of speculation lately -- rumor, speculation -- that you might be a vice-presidential candidate with John Kerry -- form kind of a bipartisan juggernaut. Any truth to that at all?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (D) ARIZONA: I spent several years in a north Vietnamese prison camp, in the dark, fed with scraps. You think I want to do that all over again as vice-president of the United States?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That was very funny. I like John McCain.
COOPER: He's great.
O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, life after sex.
One "Sex in the City" gal is saying no to a sex movie, while another says yes to an ad campaign.
That and, of course, the big question on everyone's mind -- say just who is the hottest superhero? Our barometers are cool just head on AMERICAN MORNING.
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